When Scott and I were first married five years ago, watching Top Chef was a highlight of our week. He enjoyed the competition factor, and I desperately needed the cooking tips! Since then, we've taken the Top Chef University online cooking course together, which is where I learned that Panera isn't the only way I'm going to get a good soup!
Potato Leek Soup
(Adapted from Top Chef University)
4-7 slices bacon
2 TBSP butter
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 leeks, sliced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leafs
1 pint vegetable stock
1 pint heavy cream
2 green onions for garnish
salt and pepper
I've found that with soups especially, it's good to have your ingredients prepped before beginning since things go pretty quickly and require your attention once you start. I begin by putting the bacon in the microwave for a few minutes while I peel and chop two large russet potatoes. The potatoes should be bite size!
Then finely slice two leeks and two shallots. If you haven't cooked with leeks before, this is a great time to start! I like to think of them as larger, milder green onions.
Be sure you save the bacon grease and add it to your soup pot.
TIP: Use scissors to cut up the bacon! But do save a few strips of bacon whole to use as garnish on top of the finished soup if you'd like.
Heat bacon grease in large soup pot. Add sliced leeks and bacon. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add sliced shallots and butter. I season generously with salt and pepper at this step.
Now it’s time to add the herbs. Add thyme by stripping leaves off the sprigs, bay leaves, and garlic. Stir for a minute, then add cream and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Seasoning between steps is what "builds" and "layers" the flavors.
It's time to add a half cup of veggie broth. (I have used chicken broth too since that's what I had on hand, and it tastes great as well!) While the potatoes cook through, the cream will cook down. Continue adding stock until you're at a consistency that looks good to you. I like my cream/broth on the more watery side.
Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Also, go ahead and remove the bay leaves so they don't make it into someone's bowl! Top with a strip of bacon and a few slices of green onion. Enjoy!